Bring Me the Horizon review – clearly the UK’s greatest rock band right now

Bonus Arena, Hull
With Cybermen cheerleaders, hazmat suits and gigantic mosh pits, there’s a gloriously daft energy to the pop-metallers’ emotional, earth-shaking return

“I haven’t seen a mosh pit in 18 fucking months, so you better make it good,” barks Oli Sykes. This is the start of Bring Me the Horizon’s latest UK arena run, and the band’s frontman seems genuinely elated to be back in the thick of it.

Tonight’s Hull date – the first of the Post Human tour – is the Sheffield quintet’s first performance in the East Riding of Yorkshire in well over a decade. Much has changed during that time: they’ve evolved from rough-and-ready deathcore prospects to a slick, pop-metal hit factory who have received two Grammy nominations, scored consecutive UK No 1 albums – first 2019’s Amo, then last year’s Post Human: Survival Horror – and conquered America. The band’s live fare is daft and often teeters on the brink of cliche, but it’s simply impossible not to appreciate this spectacular collision of polished pop and searing metal.

Dear Diary dips into video game lore with clear Resident Evil references (“Dear diary, dog stopped barking, probably ’cause I ate his face / Tasty, itchy, TV say there’s no more human race”), as Sykes shuffles across the stage doing his best impression of the living dead. Whisper it, but even grizzled thrash veterans Slayer might appreciate these breakneck riffs.

In another gaming nod – this time to Konami classic Metal Gear Solid – Shadow Moses’ doomy textures and walls of jagged guitars have the arena’s foundations shaking with huge, swirling circle pits as thousands of voices scream back at the band. Brand new single DiE4u – which has more in common with Ed Sheeran than Slipknot – has only been out for 100 hours, but no matter: its live debut receives arena-wide, fists-in-the-air approval.

Bring Me the Horizon performing in Hull.
Impressive spectacle … Bring Me the Horizon performing in Hull. Photograph: PR

It’s not all fire and fury. A stripped-back take on Follow You, as keyboardist Jordan Fish and guitarist Lee Malia take centre stage with Sykes, has a teary-eyed audience hanging on the singer’s every word. In fact, he even encourages someone in the front row to hold off on the waterworks, lest they set him off. “You don’t know how much we’ve missed this,” he says.

What’s most impressive is the sheer spectacle. The stunning visuals and state-of-the-art strobe lights are enough of a sensory overload on their own, and for most of the night, Sykes is flanked by a pair of dancers. During Happy Song they’re costumed as part cheerleader, part Doctor Who Cybermen, complete with pompoms.

The pandemic references are frequent, but only ever as playful acknowledgments of the past 18 months. Marrying electronic elements with nu-metal’s bluster is the band’s calling card these days, and Parasite Eve is a powerful example that takes aim at Cummings et al: “When all the king’s sources and all the king’s friends / Don’t know their arses from their pathogens.” By this point, the dancers are wearing hazmat suits, as Sykes asks Hull: “Who got Covid?”

Bring Me the Horizon’s steady, assured ascension points to many more years in rock’s upper echelons. Even after eight studio releases, the band have an average age of just 34. And considering that Malia told this newspaper in 2013 that they were “never gonna sell out arenas”, those expectations need revising. Surely stadiums aren’t beyond the realms of possibility. Bring Me the Horizon are the country’s premier rock act, and the truth is they have been for a while.

Bring Me the Horizon play Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff, tonight, then tour until 26 September.

Contributor

Chris Lord

The GuardianTramp

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